ASER is a wealthy composition of learning outcomes of children in rural India. The Report card has been an uncontested reference to anyone interested in educational research and assessment. When the previous reports sparked several debates in the Parliament, many scholars started questioning the lacunae in our education system. Following this, the government and other stakeholders have formulated several ideas and have taken many decisions based on ASER reports to fix the problems of low learning among our school going children. The report is now well received by the society, the government and the scholars. But how many of us have wondered about how and who gathered these data from every nooks and corners of our country? There is a great deal of extremely hard work of innumerable people to bring up the survey.
Research Associates at the ASER Centre have toiled to tweak and improve the procedures of the survey; Regional Team Members have ensured that the survey is well executed in their respective states; we have covered all the states including the highly terrain North-East. But the volunteers, the heart and soul of this mammoth task, are our pride: they actually have gone to our sampled villages to send us the data. What we read in the Report card is their experience. A great philosopher said, ‘experience cannot be explained’, such is a volunteer’s experience. They have gone to the, hitherto unheard of, remotest villages of our country, in rain, in cold, and in hot sun. Though the Plains and the Plateau in our country pose less problems of transportation and weather, the North-East region, northern region and some parts of Western Ghats offer high terrain, harsh weather, situations that are uncalled for and require your energy, dexterity and patience.
I could better understand the adventures of our volunteers when I went to a sampled village in Dakshina Kannada District of Karnataka for recheck. The last hope of a bus or any other transportation was only till a place from where the sampled village was another 6 km. I had to walk down in the dense forest that is actually known for regular animal-human conflicts. The village surprised me with each of its four hamlets situated with a distance of 2km from one another and houses very sparsely located. Likewise, many of our volunteers across the country have marched like ‘soldiers’ to the remotest villages to help us conduct this survey. While some of them have found time in between their busy schedules to be a part of this survey, many of them have dedicated their full time with their urge to work for a noble cause because they think education is the pinnacle of a growing society and development. Our volunteers have proved that ASER is a truly ‘Citizen Led Survey’. During this beautiful journey, each one of us have adventurous tales from places that we have experienced, from a very cordial to adverse conditions. Many of us, across the country, have been sharing our stories on the blog. It is a matter of extreme happiness.
ASER Team, Karnataka